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About the Book:
Featuring appearances from thirty of the Haanta series’ most beloved characters, Tales from Frewyn Volume Two pays tribute to the animals that inhabit the world of the Two Continents. From Mr Cluck, the rooster that refuses to crow, to Tuatha, the stubborn Westren longhorn, the series boasts a multitude of strange and wonderful creatures, including traveling mice, mischievous mares, vicious rats, and eloquent gulls. Join everyone in Khantara Ghaasta, the Diras Castle keep, and the far reaches of Westren and Haantaledhran in honouring their feathered companions and furred friends with this collection of their most daring and delightful episodes.
Read-Along: The Rat, Pt. 2
Martje, however, could not be easy: seeing the mouse in her larder, though he had done nothing but sniff the air and squeak his solicitations, had roused a frightening concern. She could not revisit the larder without her eyes darting about, without scouring every corner for some hint of movement. A shelf disturbed, a creak in the storeroom, an item misplaced was enough to excite the most terrific notions. She searched with tapered eyes, she hunted and scoured, but there were no mice to be caught, and Martje’s apprehensions must be appeased, though her suspicions could not be entirely done away.
Her conduct, though ridiculous with her leaping from shadows with her rolling pin in her hand, had almost been prophetic, for one morning, a few days after the appearance of the mouse, Martje descried a long tail wiggling about from the crack in the storeroom door. She gasped at first, and then frothed with violent rage. “Oh, aye, I’m gonna get you, you bastard,” she sibilated, slinking down to a prowl. She grabbed her rolling pin and prepared to strike when the creature suddenly scampered into the storeroom and out of view. “Oh, no you don’t!” Martje shouted, leaping toward her prey with rolling pin held high.
She landed beside the storeroom door and slashed down at the creature’s tail with a clatter. The creature skittered away, she pursued, tossing the small sacks of flour and grain about, smacking the pin furiously after its scratching feet. Shelves were toppled, casks were overturned, the creature had vanished into the depths of the packed storeroom, and Martje’s hopes of conquering the beast were unfounded. She slumped against the wall, rolling pin in hand, and sighed, wiping the sweat from her brow with her plump hand. She pounded her fist into the floor, swearing to the Gods for her loss. “Hashiff a Frannach,” she grunted, standing and scowling at the mess she created in the altercation.
How could this be? She had forever been cautious, had always been thorough, and never had been remiss in her attention to her kitchen, for it was her sanctuary, and any who would disturb the perfection she created must be punished. But then why was the creature there? The autumn would soon be over, leaving the frigid mask of winter to settle over the capital, and doubtless there were many small animals preparing for the coming season, but there was no food in the keep for them, so why should they invade? The answer, however, soon presented itself: a trail of crumbs, leading from the Den Asaan’s particular shelf out of the storeroom and into the oven room. Her eyes flared, her fist tightened, and she marched out of the kitchen, up the winding stair, and toward the commons door with rolling pin in hand. She reached the top of the stairs, panting and perspiring, and raised her hand to knock on the commons door when the door was thrown open by Den Asaan himself, who was standing on the threshold and flouting.
“I’m. Gonna. Kill. You. Monster,” Martje huffed, struggling to rally herself.
“You should be in your Mhojhudarron and not at my door,” the giant demanded.
Martje had recomposed enough to say, “It’s your fault I got a mouse in my kitchen.”
Rautu gave her a sideways glare.
“Aye, I know it was you,” she asserted, waving her rolling pin at him. “Who else eats his chocolate cake at all hours of the night, leavin’ a trail of crumbs wherever he goes? Sure, and now we got a visitor ’cause you gotta eat like a boar!”
Rautu would have declared that to eat like one was certainly more acceptable than resembling one, but at that moment, his mate was coming from the main room behind him, and he turned to make way.
“What is it Martje?” said Boudicca. “You look as though you mean to flatten my mate.”
“Aye, I mean to, and Borras help me, so I will. I know he’s you’re man and all, and what’s family’s family, but you’re gonna hafta find yourself another man, ’cause I’m right gonna kill this one.”
“Besides your usual variety of complaints and remonstrances, may I ask what exactly has he done to warrant your affection?” she smiled, eyeing the rolling pin.
“His mess brought a mouse in my kitchen. He’s always leavin’ what for me and my girls to clean in the mornin’, paradin’ about my larder like it’s somethin’ to do, tossin’ his filth everywhere.”
“While I cannot deny that might be true in some instances, he was certainly not in the kitchen last night.”
“And how’d you know that, kin?”
Rautu almost grinned. “I was enjoying my traala until this morning–”
“That’s enough outta you, monster,” Martje shouted. “I don’t need to know about all your business. All I know is you were in my kitchen some time before the mouse showed up. You don’t start cleanin’ up after yourself, I’m askin’ the Majesty to make a decree that’ll force you to lick the floor where you make a mess of it.”
A firm nod, a curt humph, and Martje felt she had said her piece. She was about to return to the kitchen when a shriek from below gave her a start. The clanging pots and pans, the shrill cries of kitchen maids, and the shout of “A rat!” renewed all of Martje’s vexation. A rat: the cry resounded through the vacancies of Martje’s mind. A mouse could be given excuse: it might be looking for a home away from the cold, but a rat at any time could be given no quarter. With stout conviction did Martje clointer down the steps, her rolling pin high, her eyes ablaze. Never had her kitchen tolerated such a resident. This odious beast must have wandered in from the ducts in the citadel, rendering everything in the kitchen instantly contaminated, making Martje want to set the keep on fire. She stormed into the oven room. Pots and pans were scattered across the floor, presumably dropped by the scullery maid who was run away, clay pots lay broken on the ground, and Martje searching feverishly about, shouting “Where is it? Where is it? I’m gonna kill that bastard!”
Shayne, who had emerged from the armoury to see what was the matter, stared fearfully at Sheamas, who had just entered from the door in the larder with a shipment of dried rations. They watched Martje scramble about in violent fury and stared at one another in terror, until Shayne motioned toward the barracks, where the rations might be kept behind the security of a locked door and the various soldiers who went in and out of it at least three times a day.
About the Author:
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.
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